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F1 drivers pick sides in Verstappen/Hamilton title fight

Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton will go head-to-head for the title in the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. RacingNews365.com has gathered comments from drivers up and down the grid over who they are backing.

There is nothing to separate Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton in terms of points as they arrive at this weekend's season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. It is a simple 'winner takes all' scenario, with the sidenote that Verstappen holds an advantage in terms of victory countback (9-8 in his favour), meaning if both drivers fail to finish, it is the Dutchman who would take the crown. Ahead of the showdown, RacingNews365.com has collected drivers' thoughts from the usual Thursday media sessions to find out who they are backing, and how many have decided to sit on the fence...

Backing Verstappen

Sebastian Vettel: "Michael [Schumacher] is my hero, so for that reason, I probably don't want Lewis to win. But the truth is they've both had a strong season and they are going into the last race with the opportunity to win this championship because they both deserve it. In a way, I'd be happy if Michael's record still stands, but even if Lewis wins, to me Michael is still the greatest. If Lewis can win one more, two more, three more, five more championships, it doesn't change anything for me. I get along with Lewis, but probably the gut says I want Max to win to keep Michael’s record alive. But my head is quite clear, in terms of may the better man win." Fernando Alonso: "Mercedes lately, I think, is a little bit [better] performing, and they won a couple of races now. But Max is driving, you know, in my opinion, one step ahead of all of us. We saw the [qualifying] lap in Jeddah, until he touched the wall in the last corner - that lap was coming from Max, not from the Red Bull. I think Mercedes deserve the Constructors' Championship, because the car is superior, and Max, maybe overall in the year, was driving one step ahead of everyone. He deserves it, in my opinion." Pierre Gasly: "I think it's amazing for our sport to have two drivers driving for two different teams and fighting for the World Championship in the last race – and being tied after that many races. I think both of them have done an amazing season. You know, I even enjoy watching the highlights after the race, as we usually don't get to see what's going on. On Sunday night [in Saudi Arabia], I just got back to the hotel, watched the highlights, and I was like, 'Woah!' It was a great race to watch. I'm really excited to see what's gonna happen this weekend. I'm not sure they're gonna finish the race (laughs), but I think Red Bull and Max will get it." Kimi Raikkonen: "Honestly, whoever has the most points will win. I don't know if there is a right or wrong, whoever's gonna win it. It doesn't matter for me who wins, but if I had to choose one, I probably would go then with Red Bull to win it. Just something different, you know?"

Backing Hamilton

George Russell: "For me, I'd love to see Lewis win. I think what he has achieved, especially recently, has been pretty exceptional. To even be in the fight altogether, when Red Bull had such a far superior car at the start of the year… when you look back, [Mercedes] managed to win, I think, three of the first four races, when Red Bull were clearly the quickest package out there. But Max has done an exceptional job and you can argue that they both deserve to win for different reasons. Hopefully, it's a clean and fair race, and the best man wins."

Sitting on the fence

Carlos Sainz: "I'm not gonna comment personally, who's been my driver of the season, particularly because if I will say one, then one side will criticise me and say, 'No, Lewis has had a better car', and if I say Max… it's too polarised, so I just don't want to take a stance, because it doesn't make sense, looking at how polarised [it is]. But I think they have both done incredible seasons." Daniel Ricciardo: "I've stopped giving predictions! At moments I've thought Max, other moments I've thought Lewis. It's so hard to read. Ultimately, it's really great for the sport that the fight's going down to the wire, equal on points - it's cool. You talk about a whole season, but ultimately, it's whoever has a better Abu Dhabi weekend. You break it down, it's whoever does better than the other, and they're gonna be crowned champ. It's that simple." Lance Stroll: "I don't know. It's going to go down to the wire. It's really about this weekend. Lewis seems to have the momentum right now, but Max isn't gonna go down without a fight, as we saw last weekend in Saudi, so it should be interesting." Mick Schumacher: "Well, I think that nothing is decided yet. My fingers are crossed for both of them. Obviously, there are only these two remaining who can win the championship, so it will for sure be interesting to see. Whoever wins will win, I think I can't do anything about that." Nikita Mazepin: "I hope the strongest wins. I think both of them do really deserve to win the championship. Unfortunately in our sport, you cannot walk away with two trophies with first place. I think it will go down to who can keep their mindset in the best place and who will have the luck on their side, ultimately, as well. I think experience… in that respect, Lewis has the upper hand on it. I think Mercedes have done a fantastic job. But Max is a new face as well… I really like them both, as humans, as athletes, as racing drivers as well, so don't make me do it [pick one]!"

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